Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterNovember 9, 2001
Starting with this issue, I'm using MakeAShorterLink.com to shorten very long URLs. It's a useful service, elegantly implemented. This will prevent the wrapping of long URLs, which in some applications prevents users from clicking through. I hope it saves you from cutting and pasting.
Free online scholarly blogs
A web log (or weblog, hence blog) is a chronological list of the editor's postings with the most recent on top. Typically a blog shows only a week's worth on one screen, with the rest in a searchable archive. Some blogs are individual diaries, some are devoted to news in a certain niche, some are like newsletters published one date-stamped item at a time. Some blogs are produced by one individual and some have many contributors. All are free. There is now intuitive software to make blogs easy to create and maintain.
If you haven't used blogs to follow developments in a certain corner of the world (electronic publishing, libraries, you name it), you're in for a pleasant surprise. They've become very useful tools.
The useful blogs today tend to cover news in some fairly narrow professional beat, political bloc, or product market. But there's no reason why they couldn't cover news in a scholarly discipline.
Two good examples of scholarly blogs are GeoBlog, maintained by Fred Siewers, and the Biological Science blog from the BigBlog family of blogs. When there is news of interest to geologists or biologists, these blog editors log a note with a link. Geologists or biologists can visit the sites periodically to see what's going on. Both blogs cover both popular and scholarly sources (and both could enrich the mix with more scholarly sources). Both are useful to working scientists and should inspire imitators in other fields.
In the back of my mind, one of my models here is John Baez, professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside. Baez reads current journal articles in mathematical physics and cross-posts his summaries and thoughts to four usenet newsgroups (sci.physics.research, sci.math.research, sci.physics, and sci.math). He's been doing this nearly every week for more than three years. He doesn't run a blog, but anybody willing to do what he's doing could make a terrific blog. Why doesn't every field have a John Baez (or two, or ten), reading current articles and posting summaries and thoughts to a blog for other researchers in the field?
Biological Science Blog
John Baez, This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics
* Other scholarly blogs
Archaeology and ancient history
BigBlog family of blogs(Arts and Culture, general science, robotics, space science.)
Il blog di it.scienza.chimica
Virtual Sky Blog(Links and annotations to various pages of the Virtual Sky, a simulation of the actual sky. Not on astronomy in general.)
* Blogging in general
Cindy Curling, A Closer Look at Weblogs(A very good introduction to blogs.)
Finding blogs on a given topic
Making your own blogBlogger, http://www.blogger.com/ (free tools, free hosting)Weblogger, http://www.weblogger.com/ (free tools, unfree hosting)
Spyonit(Sic this alert service on a blog to be notified by email when it is updated.)
Adobe says "licensed", court says "sold"
Softman Products runs BuyCheapSoftware.com, a web site that unbundles Adobe software "Collections" and sells the pieces separately. This enables buyers to buy, install, and use the individual programs without seeing or clicking assent to Adobe's licensing agreement. When Adobe found out about this practice, it sued Softman for infringing its trademarks and copyrights. In August a federal district court issued a temporary restraining order against Softman, but in October it lifted the order and ruled that Softman is acting within its rights as a purchaser.
The case is about software, not scholarship, but many of the court's arguments extend to scholarly texts and other forms of intellectual property. The court ruled that Adobe "sold" copies of its software to Softman and didn't merely "license" them. The fact that Adobe used licensing language to describe the transaction is irrelevant. What matters is the substance of the transaction itself. Softman paid full value for the software; Softman accepted the risk that it would be damaged or lost; and Softman accepted the risk that it would be unable to resell it. These are the hallmarks of a sale.
Adobe didn't sell its intellectual property, but it did sell copies. Adobe's insistence that it owns the intellectual property is therefore beside the point. If Softman bought copies of the software from Adobe and didn't merely license them, then it has the right to dispose of them in any way that it sees fit. In short, the "first sale doctrine" applies to copies of Adobe software.
Quoting Judge Pregerson: "Adobe seeks to control the resale of a lawfully acquired copy of its software. Adobe’s position in this action would be more akin to a journalist who claimed that ownership of the copyright to an article allowed him or her to control the resale of a particular copy of a newspaper that contained that article."
District court decision in Softman Products v. Adobe Systems(The decision is undated but was posted to the court's web site on October 22, 2001.)
BuyCheapSoftware.com(No mention of this case at the web site.)
* Postscript. What if this ruling stands and is applied to scholarly texts? If libraries and consumers are held to "buy" rather than "license" ebooks, ejournals, and ejournal articles, then they should be within their rights to bypass copy protection, make back-up copies, make copies to run on their other computers, and keep their copies in readable form (tweaked if necessary) in perpetuity without further payments.
* PPS. In trying to find more details and commentary on this case, I hit the news and law search engines. But even though stories and op-ed pieces on the case could be old enough to be crawled by the major engines (and certainly by the frequently refreshed news engines), I've found nothing. Why is the nerd press ignoring this far-reaching story?
Freedom from cross-border censorship
A federal district court ruled on November 7 that Yahoo's U.S. web operations are not bound by French law on the sale of Nazi artifacts, even though Yahoo auction pages are served to French citizens.
The French argued that a French ruling ought to be binding over what French citizens may see in France. Yahoo argued that a U.S. company's U.S. web site should be protected by the U.S. constitution.
To understand why this is good news for FOS, imagine that your online scholarship about evolution, Chinese history, or sexuality, was enjoined by courts in Iran, China, or Afghanistan. (See FOSN for 7/3/01.) The principle behind this case helps all scholars who publish controversial papers on the web --or at least the 99% for whom there is at least one country on Earth more oppressive and intolerant than their own.
Decision of the court (November 7, 2001)(The court has not yet posted its own version of the text. This copy was scanned by the Center for Democracy and Technology.)
Amicus brief for Yahoo submitted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Internet Exchange Association, Information Technology Association of America, U.S. Internet Industry Association, Online Publishers Association, and the U.S. Council for International Business
Reuters, Judge: Yahoo not bound by French Nazi Ban
AP, Federal Judge rules Yahoo is not subject to French ruling in Nazi memorabilia case
Lisa Guernsey, Court Says France Can't Censor Yahoo Site
Robert MacMillan, Groups Applaud Yahoo Hate Speech Case
AP, French anti-racism group objects to U.S. court's Yahoo ruling
Doug Isenberg, Struggling with the French Yahoo Nazi-Auction Decision(Background on the case written before Wednesday's decision.)
Turning the tables
In earlier issues, we've worried about the commercial exploitation of FOS (see FOSN for 7/17/01 and 8/7/01). If you put content online for free for readers, then it's also free for commercial publishers or any other for-profit vendor who wants to take up your content, repackage it, perhaps with add-ons, and sell it.
Now commercial providers are worried about the inverse problem. If they put up content supported by advertising or subscription fees, then (as long as it isn't hidden behind passwords) it will be copied and made available free of charge by Google's cache system (FOSN for 10/12/01) or the Wayback Machine's internet archive (FOSN for 10/26/01).
Commercial providers are worrying...(Scroll down to the fifth story.)
There's an interesting symmetry here. Free content can be repackaged and sold by commercial publishers. Priced content can be repackaged and given away by FOS providers.
Here are two differences that break the symmetry. First, when free content has been repackaged for purchase, and when priced content has been repackaged for free distribution, then most users will prefer the free versions of both kinds of content. Or at least it would take significant add-ons to persuade users to buy content they could get for free. This is the asymmetry that will help FOS in the long run. If we can convert lead to gold and gold to lead, most people will prefer gold.
Second, Google and the Wayback Machine let commercial providers tag their sites so that they are not cached or archived. Hence, commercial providers can stop free distribution at their own initiative, but there is no comparable step that FOS providers can take to stop commercial exploitation. They can copyright their content and refuse permission to reprint it for profit. But this requires monitoring, negotiation, confrontation, and lawsuits, not just a metatag.
Copyright helps each side symmetrically block the other. Clearly FOS providers can use copyright to stop commercial exploitation. For the other direction, see Katharine Mieszkowski's November 2 article for _Salon_, in which she speculates on the copyright and other legal troubles that might arise for the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Online newspapers that charge for access to back issues will soon find that the Wayback Machine gives free online access to all. "The testy members of the National Writers Union [vindicated by the Supreme Court in _Tasini_] may also view the archive as an unauthorized and uncompensated republishing of their work. There's also the tricky question of what happens if a settlement in a lawsuit requires that libelous material be removed from a Web site, yet the original lives on in the archive?"
* The entire population of Iceland now has a license to access over 2,000 electronic journals from six publishers. (PS: This an interesting hybrid. It's unfree in the obvious sense that Iceland paid money for the national license. But for Icelanders, it's government subsidized, like NASA's Astrophysics Data System, the National Library of Medicine, and much other content that Americans call FOS.)
* Ingenta, which calls itself the world's largest online database of scientific literature, has become profitable sooner than expected. Its revenue comes from fees paid by publishers for electronic versions of their print journals, and from fees paid by readers to download articles. Ingenta-funded research shows that "by switching to online distribution, publisher royalties and revenue could increase by 38%" --presumably by not passing the savings on to subscribers.
Ingenta press release on profitability
* The California Digital Library (CDL) will discontinue its version of Medline on December 19. The CDL version was originally called Melvyl Medline Plus and, more recently, CDL Medline/HealthSTAR. After December 19, CDL users will access Medline through PubMed.
* The new USA PATRIOT Act allows secret searches, not only of your home and office but of your library borrowing records. These searches can be secret in the sense that the authorities need not tell you that the search ever took place. The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, in consultation with the Freedom to Read Foundation, has put together legal advice for librarians who are served with subpoenas to turn over the borrowing records of patrons without informing those patrons.
* The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) harnesses the spare desktop CPU cycles of thousands of volunteers to create a massively parallel virtual computer for scientific computations. But now post-terrorist paranoia may limit the effectiveness of this exciting technology. Swedish Public Radio has banned the software from its machines because there's no way to tell what job the computations are really performing. It might be the scientific search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, or it might be a terrorist's calculation of missile ballistics.
Jakt på rymdliv säkerhetsrisk?(In Swedish. My English summary is based on Ulf Hedlund's email to Declan McCullagh's Politech list.)
SETI @ home
* eZ Publish, an open source content management system from Norway, has released its desktop edition. eZ Publish is based on PHP (the Apache programming module) and MySQL.
* Reciprocal, Inc., a developer of DRM software funded by Microsoft, has gone out of business.
New on the net
* The source code for the Digital Document Discourse Environment (D3E) is now available for downloading. D3E is an open source program which creates a threaded discussion attached to any web page. It's easy to set up and use and a natural for integrating discussion with any online article or book or for experimenting with new forms of interactive peer review. "Full D3E" uses a toolkit to insert navigation links and discussion hooks into the target document. "Ubiquitous D3E" (which is new) uses unmodified files in their natural habitat on the web. D3E discussions support multiple threads, moderators, discussion subscription, searching, email delivery, HTML within posts, look and feel control, usage statistics, and other standard features of major discussion forums. D3E is a collaboration of the Knowledge Media Institute of the UK's Open University and the Center for LifeLong Learning & Design of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Digital Document Discourse Environment (project overview, downloadable source)
Ubiquitous D3E (start a D3E discussion of an existing web page)
Example: D3E discussion of the FOS home page
Example: how the Journal of Interactive Media in Education uses D3E for interactive peer review
For a similar free service, see Document Review from QuickTopic.
* The Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library (EEVL) was originally launched in 1996 as a free online archive of engineering reports, articles, and data. This week it was relaunched with a wider scope that includes mathematics and computing. The new name is the Internet Guide to Engineering, Mathematics, and Computing, though it still goes by its old acronym, EEVL. It has one of the most flexible search engines I've seen in a content portal. You can search the entire archive or limit your search to any of its many topical sub-sections. You can limit searches by discipline, by resource type, or by national origin. You can search the full-texts of the archived articles, or limit the search to authors, titles, URLs, or descriptions. EEVL is the joint product of a handful of British universities with funds from JISC.
* The National Library of New Zealand has put online over 300,000 pages from a score of 19th century NZ newspapers. Users may browse the collection in English or in Maori.
* The proceedings of the August workshop in Atlanta, "Managing Digital Video Content" are now online. For most of the talks, the site includes the speaker's PowerPoint presentation and a RealVideo clip of the talk.
* The proceedings of the October JISC seminar, Digital Curation: Digital Archives, Libraries, and E-Science, are now online. These consist of a couple of RTF documents and many PowerPoint presentations.
* The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has started compiling a systematic collection of censorship incidents traceable to the patriotism and counter-terrorism inspired by the September 11 attacks. The archive has a section devoted to academic incidents, but the whole collection is still very new and hasn't caught up with half the incidents I've read about. I assume it will grow.
If you can't wait for the NCAC archive to grow, see the archive from EFF mentioned in FOSN for 10/26/01. While the NCAC's collection covers all kinds of anti-terrorist censorship, the EFF collection is limited to the censorship of web sites.
* SearchTool.com has put online Eric Lease Morgan's comparative review of eight open source search engines, and links to 20 others.
Share your thoughts
* The National Academies' Committee on Intellectual Property Rights in the Knowledge-Based Economy would like your comments on the papers from several past conferences that it has posted to its web site.
* The American Library Association would like your nominations for the 2002 Library of the Future Award. The nomination deadline is December 1.
* The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) would like your nominations for its 2002 National Award for Library Service. It will accept nominations until February 15.
* The IMLS would also like your comments on the following two reports, both just put online.
Report of the IMLS Digital Library Forum on the National Science Digital Library Program
A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections
* The Trans European Telecommunications Networks is calling for proposals in many areas, including "Access to Europe's Cultural Heritage".
* Gerry Mckiernan would welcome any news about "current or planned efforts for organizing or providing enhanced access to Internet or Web resources" for his "News from the Field" column for the _Journal of Internet Cataloging_ (JIC). Send news items to <gerrymck [at] iastate.edu>.
In other publications
* In the November 6 _Chronicle of Higher Education_, Jeffrey Young interviews Corynne McSherry, author of _Academic Work: Battling for Control of Intellectual Property_ (Harvard UP, 2001). McSherry sees a deep conflict between copyright law, which is about the exchange of commodities, and academic life, which is about the exchange of gifts. Her book won Harvard's 2001 Thomas J. Wilson prize for the best first book accepted this year.
Jeffrey Young, Law Student Warns That Professors' Quest for Rights to Lectures Could Backfire
Corynne McSherry, _Academic Work_(This is the full-text of the book. Does anyone have details on when Harvard provides free online full-text of its books and when it doesn't?)
* Lawrence Lessig has just published _The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World_ (Random House, October 30, 2001), a critique of the direction of copyright law with specific recommendations on how legislatures can protect the future of ideas.
Lessig, _The Future of Ideas_ (at Amazon)
Review by Marc Rotenberg (director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center)
* Rory Litwin, maintainer of the Library Juice weblog, has written a manifesto that attempts to capture what he calls the Library Spirit. Libraries' "combination of economic communitarianism and social/intellectual libertarianism creates the ideal support system for a democratic society, because the library provides everyone with access to ideas and provides access to every idea."
Rory Litwin, The Ideology of Librarianship: A Libertarian Socialism of Information
* The text-e online seminar (see FOSN for 10/19/01) has moved on to the discussion of an essay by Roberto Casati. Free registration allows you to participate in the conversation.
Roberto Casati's essay, What the Internet Tells Us About the Real Nature of the Book
Stevan Harnad's comments on Casati's essay
* The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the First Amendment Project (FAP) have issued a joint press release on the California decision vindicating DeCSS and declaring that source code is protected by the First Amendment (see FOSN for 11/2/01). The press release was issued November 1, but last week the link was dead.
* More on the California DeCSS decision.
* If you want to read more about taxonomy software than the short bit in the last issue, see the articles collected on this SearchTools.com page devoted to it.
* If you remember, in June the small ebook publisher Rosetta Books defeated Random House in the Supreme Court and established the principle that then-standard book contracts did not cover electronic publication. As a result, Rosetta Books won the right to publish electronic versions of books whose print versions were under contract to Random House. (See FOSN for 7/17/01.) Simon & Schuster shares Random House's interest in this case and this week showed its solidarity by squelching a deal to distribute books from a third firm, iBooks, when it found out that iBooks had struck a co-publishing deal with Rosetta Books.
Hillel Italie, Simon & Schuster Helps Kill Deal
* If you were intrigued by R2 Consulting's dynamic map of the ebook business (see FOSN for 8/23/01), then you'll be glad to know that software for building your own dynamic knowledge maps is now available for the desktop ($299 retail).
Star Tree mapping software from inxight
Example: R2 Consulting's map of the ebook business (using inxight software)
* In the last issue, I reviewed the background of Eddy van der Maarel's resignation from _Vegetatio_ in order to launch the _Journal of Vegetative Science_ (JVS). At the time I mailed the issue, his editorial in JVS 1.1, explaining the background in his own words was only accessible online to paying subscribers. Now Opulus Press has made it freely available. Thank you, Opulus Press.
* "Remote User Authentication in Libraries" is a very good annotated list of relevant web resources. The list is thorough and the annotations are helpful.
* Since 1998, the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) has been hard at work. It is scanning clay tablets, on each of their six faces, and putting the digital images online for students and scholars. In the next few years CDLI will contain scans of 60,000 clay tablets, with special strength in the period 3200-2000 BCE. Over time it plans to capture the 200,000 known tablets housed in museums throughout the world. CDLI will revolutionize Assyriology, whose scholars have had to travel from museum to museum to read the physical tablets, or from library to library to read the 40,000 images already published in books and journals. The CDLI is a joint venture of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and has received funding from the NSF and NEH.
Scott McLemee's description of CDLI
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.
* Conference on the Public DomainDuke Law School, November 9-11
* Setting Standards and Making it Real (on Digital Reference Services)Orlando, November 12-13
* The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information AgeWashington, D.C., November 14
* Digitising Maps and Atlases: Experiences and TechniquesFlorence, November 15
* First Annual Meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative ConsortiumPisa, November 16-17
* British Library and BioMed Central Open Access ForumLondon, November 19
* NINCH Town Meeting: Copyright and Fair use: Creating PolicyEugene, November 19
* ARL Workshop for Publishers: Licensing Electronic Resources to Libraries: Understanding Your MarketPhiladelphia, November 19
* Electronic Journals within Art & Design: Flash in the Pan or Here to Stay?Northampton, November 21
* A Day in the Life of a Journal PublisherBradford, England, November 22
* Eighth Call for Proposals of the European IST ProgrammeLondon, November 27
* European Forum on Harmful and Illegal Cyber ContentStrasbourg, November 28
* Canadian Digital Library SymposiumToronto, November 28-29
* Fall 2001 CNI Task Force MeetingSan Antonio, November 29-30
* eGovernment [in Europe]: From Policy to PracticeBrussels, November 29-30
* Digital Media Revolution in the AmericasPasadena, November 29 - December 1
* Fourth SCHEMAS Workshop: Sharing [metadata] schemasThe Hague, November 30
* 2001 IST Exhibition and AwardsDüsseldorf, December 3
* School for Scanning: Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital AssetsDelray Beach, Florida, December 3-5
* Online Information 2001London, December 4-6
* Second Meeting of the Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards (CETIS) Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG)Luton, December 7
* The Electronic Library: Strategic, Policy and Management IssuesLoughborough, December 9-14
* 4th International Conference of Asian Digital LibrariesBangalore, December 10-12
* Academic Institutions Transforming Scholarly Communications (SPARC/ARL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)New Orleans, January 18-23
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues. If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, you may subscribe by signing up at the FOS home page or the FOS Newsletter page.
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Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber